What Tech Leaders Say About The Declining Effectiveness of Digital Appeals
Blackbaud concedes that "Every astute fundraiser will note that direct mail brings in eight or nine times more money than email each year. Email giving represents about 8% of all donations to nonprofits. Those who report giving through an email appeal remains small (only 14%) and has not budged from 2013. It is clear that direct mail giving is still responsible for the overwhelming majority of fund-raising revenue, and organizations must find ways to optimize multi-channel giving versus hyper-focusing on Internet giving alone."
M+R concludes that "at the prevailing 0.0006 response rate to online campaigns, a nonprofit has to email 1,667 recipients just to generate a single donation."
The Views of Thought Leaders Suggest A Way Forward In Light of These Trends
Herschell Gordon Lewis observed: "click-through rates for Facebook ads are an almost inconceivably small 1/20 of 1 percent [0.0005]. That’s one response per 2,000 message-recipients. It doesn’t begin to compete with even the weakest conventional medium."
Maya Gasuk, who led Cornell University’s annual giving for ten years, said: "People can get easily distracted by shiny objects like Facebook and other social media tools. There’s a tendency to think the next new thing will solve all of our problems. But at the end of the day, it’s all about a conversation with donors. The core of what we do is relationship building and asking."
Sherry Minton of American Heart Association told the Direct Marketing Association’s Nonprofit Federation National Conference:
“Handwritten mail to $10+ donors increased response 100%. Significantly more donors made a second gift [yielding] greater lifetime value from early second gift donors.”
Beth Athanassiades of CARE told The Chronicle of Philanthropy that a hand-personalized note card fund appeal mailed to donors who gave $50 or more but hadn't given in 11 months "typically prompts 9 percent of recipients to give an average donation of $41.”
Mal Warwick, founder of what is now the MWD agency, described two direct mail campaigns that were personalized with handwriting: "One campaign increased response from 0.87% to 3.0% (a 244% lift) and a second increased response from 2.6% to 9% (a 246% lift)."
Dirk Rinker, president of Campbell Rinker, a marketing research firm, concluded that "donors are 3 times likelier to give online in response to direct mail than to an e-appeal."
The Implication of These Trends For Leaders of Nonprofit Organizations
Joan Smyth-Dengler, Covenant House's Vice President, characterized the synergy possible when direct mail and digital outreach are combined: "Our experience is that email combined with direct mail is like getting a catalog from J. Crew and going online to order."
Bottom Line: Combining traditional direct mail with online communication maximizes fund-raising results. But given that it takes 1,667 emails to get one reply, direct mail clearly remains the superior and indispensable medium for annual giving campaigns.
New York Journal reported on June 2, 1897 that Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) had died in London. The problem with that report was that it wasn't true. Mark Twain was very much alive and responded to the inaccurate news of his demise: "The report of my death was an exaggeration."
The same can be said about direct mail. In light of plummeting response to digital fund appeals, it would
seem that reports of direct mail's death have been greatly exaggerated and its strategic importance
is actually rising. This workshop will also show how direct mail can supplement online fund-raising efforts.
In addition to effective writing, tests show how manipulating visual design factors can also boost response.
Manipulating the appearance of direct mail affected response rates in a 50,000-piece A/B test mailing that
the American Heart Association eventually rolled out to 1,077,067 households. Testing found that what a
smile, tone of voice, and gestures add to the content of speech, personalizing mail with handwriting added a
personal touch to mail that increased response 346%. Download this dissertation excerpt to learn more:
For more information: Call: 888-444-4868 | Email: Frank@NarrativeFundRaising.org | Mail: 7412 Club View Dr Highland, CA 92346
● 10 rhetorical superstructures of the connecting narrative moment—the heart and soul of a fund appeal
● 23 linguistic features of personal emotional connection—words that make an appeal read like a coversation sounds
● 6 linguistic features of obfuscation to avoid—words and structures that create dense, tangled, detached prose
● 6 linguistic substructures of narrative—the story materials used to build the connecting narrative moment
● 5 visual language factors that add to text what a smile adds to speech—how paralanguage lifted response 346%
● Reads more like an academic paper than a conversation—preferring abstract concepts over making a human connection
● Has fewer narrative linguistic features and rhetorical structures than an official document—high exposition/low dialogue
● Lacks the three types of characters needed to build a story—protagonists, antagonists, and ensemble cast members
● Fails to create tension with events, dialogue and imagery—doesn't make a reader scared, sad, glad or mad enough to act
● Neglects to offer the leading role of hero to a donor—doesn't show how their gift can bring resolution to a nonprofit's story
This seminar will equip you with the knowledge and practical skills needed to . . .
● Craft a story-driven fund appeal that will grab attention in line one and keep the reader reading
● Show (versus tell about) one particular conflict someone your organization serves has encountered
● Portray that conflict in vivid images in the context of a story plotted with a beginning, middle, and end
● Offer the reader the chance to cast him- or herself in the leading role of hero in the story told by giving
Cost:$225 (Lunch & Parking not included)
Lunch:If you wish to join other participants for lunch (12:00-12:45) you may pre-order a meal in the morning
Schedule: 9 am - 4 pm | Lunch 12:00 - 12:45 pm | Free Briefing: 4:15 pm - 5 pm (for those unable to attend seminar)
To Register: Click Register for Seminar tab above | Email Frank@NarrativeFundRaising.org for 45-minute briefing
Two Ways to Pay:
(If name on card or check is not that of participant(s), please email attendee list to Frank@NarrativeFundRaising.org)